Touring The Solar System
The solar system is not the center of the universe. (Gasp!) No, truly, our system is about 2/3 of the way from our galaxy. It’s known as the Milky Way, because with the naked eye, it looks like someone spilled the milk. Don’t cry over it, there are now photographs on our galaxy. Gorgeous, isn’t it?The solar system consists of our star, the sun (sometimes called Sol), 8 planets, a lot of asteroids, many, many moons, dwarf planets and comets. Plus a lot of space junk.
The sun is estimated to be about 45 billion years old, out of an expected 10 billion years. It’s classified as a yellow dwarf. Not particularly impressive to the rest of the universe, but without it, we wouldn’t be here. Old Sol holds 99.86% of the mass of the Solar System. Solar flares shoot out from Sol, intense high energy radiation, associated with sunspots. They disrupt electromagnetic fields, such as in radio frequency communications and power line transmissions.
The planet closest to Sol is Mercury, named for he messenger of the Roman gods. (I venture to say other civilizations had different names for all of the planets & named moons). Mercury is the smallest planet (1516 mile radius) with the shortest “year”. Little Mercury whips around Sol in just under 88 Earth days, but the Mercury days are just under 59 Earth days. It has the greatest extreme thermal temperature range - the dayside can get to 800 degrees F (407 degrees Celsius). The night side can get to minus 290 F (minus 180 C). Not much atmosphere on it.
Venus, named from the goddess of beauty, is the next planet. Due to the heavy clouds causing a runaway greenhouse effect, It is the hottest of the planets. The surface of Venus is obscured by thick clouds of carbon dioxide & huge lightening bolts. It revolves around the sun is 224.7 Earth days, rotating at 243 E days - dang! That means a Venus day & year are pretty close. (Happy Birthday, Venus - didn’t you just have one yesterday?” Venus also spins the “wrong way” to all of the other planets except Uranus, meaning the sun rises in the west. Venus has .81 of Earth’s mass & .9 of the gravity. No moon. No axial tilt, so no seasons.
Earth, the only planet not named after a Roman god. We should come up with a better name. In some science fiction stories, it was called Terra - just another way of saying “dirt”. The only planet the has massive amounts of water, either in liquid form or ice. Earth orbits around the Sun in 365.26 days, a period known as an Earth year. During this time, Earth rotates about its axis about 366.26 times. It’s the only planet in the Solar System known to have life and liquid,water. Earth also wins the prize for the most dense planet. One moon, called “moon” - doesn’t even get a capital letter.
Mars, named for the war god, is the second smallest planet in our system. The red color comes from iron oxide. This is the closest to Earth of any of the other planets - it has an atmosphere with winds and clouds, but is about half the size of Earth. Gravity is about 38% of Earth. One Mars day = 24 hours & 39 minutes Earth time. One year is 687 Earth days. It has an axial tilt, which means seasons. It has 2 moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are described as looking like lumpy potatoes - there isn’t enough gravitational pull to smooth them in round objects.Polar caps of frozen water, no running water on the surface.
OK, I’m tired & turning off the E-toys. Brain getting mushy. Tomorrow, the rest of the Solar System! (No song tonight)